Role of Infrastructure Development to Empower Women: An Over-Determined View

Role of Infrastructure Development to Empower Women: An Over-Determined View

Indrani Basu (Berhampore College, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6912-1.ch046

Abstract

A modern economy is market focused. It is held that when a woman becomes a participant in the market on her own term as a rational economic agent she is empowered in an economic sense. It does not take into account the other spectrums of empowerment viz. gender political, cultural and like. A nation's infrastructure provides the basic scaffolding for development. The differences in how men and women use infrastructure services have important implications for sector policies, investment priorities, and program designs. This chapter will analyse how the infrastructure development programme as an economic process assist women to enhance capability of them within society and how its actual impact is mutually constituted by other non-economic social processes and make it an over determined matter. Our study has shown that adequate access of the social infrastructure services has fetched benefits for women and ensures empowerment of women.
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There exists a two-way link between infrastructure development, and women empowerment. Women may be a part of infrastructure development programme by rendering their services as an employee. Here they are acting as a productive labour of an economic process. This process may be exploitative or non- exploitative depending on nature of fundamental and subsumed class process. On the other side one level lack of infrastructural development facilities (which is attached with other non-economic processes) exacerbated gender oppression. Inequalities between girls and boys in access to schooling, adequate health care and less accessibility of sanitation, safe drinking water, and adequate uses of electricity make the women less efficient. These less efficient women fail to achieve such opportunities that they can derive from the participation as a productive labour in infrastructure development programme (World Bank, 2010). Inadequate infrastructure also affects women more than men, because women are often responsible for a larger share of, and often more time consuming, household activities (World Bank, 2013). This lack of aforesaid facilities could be influenced by several non- economic processes such as gender, cultural, political and legal processes. While disparities in basic rights, access to schooling, credit and jobs, and the ability to participate in public life took their most direct toll on women and girls, the adequacy in infrastructural services may reduce the burden of domestic chores of women and allow them more time to be spent on marketing activities. Evidence has shown that gender inequality ultimately hindered economic growth.

According to the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the process of gendering infrastructural services requires a shift in mindsets from seeing gender as “requiring attention” to consider women and girls as the “primary clients”. This effort is a critical factor in ensuring the project’s success and sustainability. When gender equality issues are not taken into account, women can become worse off—both absolutely and in relation to men” (World Bank, 2010).

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